The laughs in Seth Rogen’s first live-action sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising are every bit a part of the movie’s rollicking Revenge of the Nerds pastiche. The film is driven by the dubious actions and deceptive prank wars between two scrambling teams, which amount to amusing, frenzied chaos.
As much as archaic examples of the 80s are called upon through its reckless spirit, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising steps up its game and gains contemporary relevancy by incorporating topics of gender equality and after-dark campus dangers in order to provide more substance than the average movie goer is expecting. There’s a bit of winking and nodding towards how these topics are acknowledged, but they’re recognized as civilly as possible within the context of this occasionally gross madcap sex/stoner comedy.
It’s also refreshing for filmmaker Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five-Year Engagement) along with his screenwriters (including Rogen and Evan Goldberg who wrote Superbad) to quickly establish feasible stakes for each team that all audiences can cheer for. Married couple Mac and Kelly (Rogen and Rose Byrne) are in the process of moving and need to keep their property in good standing, however the founders of a budding sorority next door (Chloë Grace Moretz, Beanie Feldstein, Kiersey Clemons) are needing to attract traffic to their progressive sisterhood. Meanwhile, realizing how non-existant his life goals are, former frat boy Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) is desperate for purpose and will mentor any side as best as he can. It’s nice for these stories to trigger other motivations – the audience can always see this movie in full motion minus a few sidetracks that are oddly trying to pad out the runtime.
Stoller’s comedy doesn’t suffer from “sequelitis” because it finds ways to delight in other ways than its predecessor Neighbors did. Like an exploding airbag, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising finds new ways to pop.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie